22.214.171.124 Key factors for carbon-free energy and decarbonization development
All of the technological options assumed to contribute towards further decarbonization and reduction of future GHG emissions require further research and development (R&D) to improve their technical performance, reduce costs and achieve social acceptability. In addition, deployment of carbon-saving technologies needs to be applied at ever-larger scales in order to benefit from potentials of technological learning that can result in further improved costs and economic characteristics of new technologies. Most importantly, appropriate institutional and policy inducements are required to enhance widespread diffusion and transfer of these technologies.
Full replacement of dominant technologies in the energy systems is generally a long process. In the past, the major energy technology transitions have lasted more than half a century, such as the transition from coal as the dominant energy source in the world some 80 years ago, to the dominance of crude oil during the 1970s. Achieving such a transition in the future towards lower GHG intensities is one of the major technological challenges addressed in mitigation and stabilization scenarios.
Figures 3.34 and 3.35 show the ranges of energy technology deployment across scenarios by 2030 and 2100 for baseline (non-intervention) and intervention (including stabilization) scenarios, respectively. The deployment of energy technologies in general, and of new technologies in particular, is significant indeed, even through the 2030 period, but especially by 2100. The deployment ranges should be compared with the current total global primary energy requirements of some 440 EJ in 2000. Coal, oil and gas reach median deployment levels ranging from some 150 to 250 EJ by 2030. The variation is significantly higher by 2100, but even medians reach levels of close to 600 EJ for coal in reference scenarios, thereby exceeding by 50% the current deployment of all primary energy technologies in the world. Deployment of nuclear and biomass is comparatively lower, in the range of about 50–100 EJ by 2030 and up to ten times as much by 2100. This all indicates that radical technological changes occur across the range of scenarios.
Figure 3.34: Deployment of primary energy technologies across pre-2001 scenarios by 2030 and 2100: Left-side ‘error’ bars show baseline (non-intervention) scenarios and right-side ones show intervention and stabilization scenarios. The full ranges of the distributions (full vertical line with two extreme tic marks), the 25th and 75th percentiles (blue area) and the median (middle tic mark) are also shown.
Figure 3.35: Deployment of primary energy technologies across post-2001 scenarios by 2030 and 2100: Left-side ‘error’ bars show baseline (non-intervention) scenarios and right-side ones show intervention and stabilization scenarios. The full ranges of the distributions (full vertical line with two extreme tic marks), the 25th and 75th percentiles (blue area) and the median (middle tic mark) are also shown.
The deployment ranges are large for each of the technologies but do not differ much when comparing the pre-2001 with post-2001 scenarios over both time periods, up to 2030 and 2100. Thus, while technology deployments are large in the mean and variance, the patterns have changed little in the new (compared with the older) scenarios. What is significant in both sets of literature is the radically different structure and portfolio of technologies between baseline and stabilization scenarios. Mitigation generally means significantly less coal, somewhat less natural gas and consistently more nuclear and biomass. What cannot be seen from this comparison, due to the lack of data and information about the scenarios, is the extent to which carbon capture and storage is deployed in mitigation scenarios. However, it is very likely that most of the coal and much of the natural gas deployment across stabilization scenarios occurs in conjunction with carbon capture and storage. The overall conclusion is that mitigation and stabilization in emissions scenarios have a significant inducement on diffusion rates of carbon-saving and zero-carbon energy technologies.